Local School Blogs: They’re All Good

Thanks to Susan Troller for the kind shout-out.   

I’m glad the article also mentioned others blogging on school topics.  Jim Zellmer has long provided a wonderful resource for the community with his School Information System (SIS) blog.  Several years ago, it introduced me to more in-depth analysis of School Board issues. Now that I’m on the Board, I’m somewhat less attracted to the sort of critiques of the Board and administration that are kind of a staple on the SIS blog and its comments section, but what the hey.

The SIS blog does sometimes seem like a random generator of education-related topics, but here’s what’s great about it.  At our meeting last night, the Board approved a switch in email systems for the district to Google and G-mail.  We also discussed more use of apps like Google Docs for use in the classroom.  This got me thinking about the increasing extent to which our students need access to computers and the internet outside of school hours.  I was thinking it would be useful to quantify the extent to which this is actually a problem in the district, and to explore ways to address it.  Then, lo and behold, I see a link in the SIS blog this morning to a study that appears to reach the counterintuitive conclusion that “providing universal access to home computers and high‐speed internet access would broaden, rather than narrow, math and reading achievement gaps.”  I’ll read the study, though I don’t know how much of an impact it will have on me.  This is one of many examples of how, for me, the SIS blog has contributed to a broader understanding of school issues, and I’m grateful for it.  

TJ Mertz’s AMPS blog is also a great resource.  TJ is indefatigable.  He and Don Severson (of Active Citizens for Education – can’t find a website link) seem to possess the only two season tickets to School Board meetings.  (And I wish Don would blog as well.)  TJ does a good and valuable job in previewing the agendas for Board meetings and providing wrap-ups of what we do during the meetings.  I don’t always agree with his conclusions but I greatly respect the passion and analytical ability that is evident in his writing.  TJ is also a go-to source for information on efforts to reform the state school funding system.

I’m glad to read that my colleague on the Board Lucy Mathiak has plans to write more frequently for her blog.  I’ve learned from her prior posts.  These blogs may allow us to explore in more detail our different approaches to some issues, and we do indeed have different approaches occasionally. 

I’ve also read and appreciated Peter Sobol’s blog  growing out of his service on the Monona Grove School Board and in fact reviewed it while I was trying to figure out what I might be able to do with this blog.  I wish more Board members from other districts in the area would blog, since there is plenty we could learn from them.  Monona Grove, for example, appears clearly to be a leader in student assessments.

So props all around.  But I’m easy on this stuff so you might want to take my words of praise with a grain of salt.  I sometimes even read David Blaska’s blog.

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